MIAMI — The theories as to what’s wrong with the Cardinals’ offense lately are about as many as the number of players who are under their career norms, which is pretty much everyone but Paul DeJong, Marcell Ozuna and injured Yadier Molina. But two men who matter weighed in on Monday.
President of baseball operations John Mozeliak said he thought the hitters’ approach “has been more individualized than instead of maybe more team-thinking. In other words, sometimes sacrificing yourself to move a runner ... is something we need to see happen,” said Mozeliak.
“I still believe it’s a talented offensive club but obviously we’ve got to see some things turn around. You can’t have a five-run home run and I think that sometimes is how the mentality is.”
From his vantage point, manager Mike Shildt is losing some patience with his team running up the opposing starter’s pitch count but doing little with it.
“For a while, we were rightfully on board with the contact rate,” he said before the Cardinals played the Miami Marlins here. “But, candidly, for the last little bit, there’s been a little more ‘chase’ in our game. We haven’t been able to get better as the game goes, which is the thing that’s probably the most frustrating.
“‘Give away,’ is a strong term but we haven’t been able to take that tough at-bat consistently and we’ve been able to chase out of the (strike) zone, which creates softer contact and quicker innings. That’s the thing that needs to change.
“I’m tired of looking at the pitch count,” he said. “I’m really optimistic (when) we’ve got (he named several recent opposing starters) at 77 pitches with two outs in the third and you look up and there’s maybe a run, which is a little low. But you say, ‘OK, we’re going to knock him out,’ and then you look up in the sixth inning and the guy’s at 96 and there’s still a run.
“It’s not for lack of effort. It’s for lack of execution.”
Mozeliak never has been a fan of keeping things the same for very long if they’re not working. Change could be in the wind.
“Looking at the lineup and player usage is something that we have to consider,” he said. “Going down this current path certainly hasn’t led us to the success we’d like to see, so change is something you’d have to consider.”
WAINO ON IL; MOLINA ABOUT TO COME OFF
As Adam Wainwright went on the 10-day injured list on Monday with a left hamstring strain, longtime battery mate Yadier Molina, out with a strain in the right thumb area, is about to come off it.
“Close,” was Molina’s response when asked how soon he might be playing. “We’re on the right page to be back soon.”
Molina said, “Hopefully,” when asked if that might be might later this week, as in a four-game series in New York beginning on Thursday.
The Cardinals’ nine-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glover took batting practice in St. Louis on Sunday and in the indoor cages on Monday night. “The strength is coming back,” he said. “Everything is feeling normal. There’s no more pain. It’s just getting the strength back.”
Mozeliak said he allowed Molina a “strong voice,” as to when he would return. “But we have to make sure we’re not putting him in harm’s way,” said Mozeliak.
Righthander Ryan Helsley, who had been optioned to Class AAA Memphis on Sunday, was recalled from that team to take Wainwright’s place on the roster.
The 37-year-old Wainwright was hurt running out a double in the fifth inning in Sunday night’s game and he returned to St. Louis on Monday to be examined by doctors. At 5-6, he is tied for the team lead in wins and he is second in strikeouts at 61 and in innings pitched at 70 1/3. On Sunday, he became the sixth Cardinals pitcher to surpass 2,000 innings for the franchise.
Helsley, 24, has made six relief appearances for the Cardinals with no record and a 2.70 earned run average, with opponents hitting just .121 against him.
HARD TO WATCH
Molina said it had been hard for him not to be able to play and just watch, “especially when the team is going bad,” he said. “We haven’t played the best that we can. It’s tough to watch (the games). But right now, the only thing I can do is get better and try to get back as soon as possible.”
But how does the team get better?
“We have to try to play the ‘little ball,”’ said Molina, meaning advancing runners and getting one or two runs at a time, rather than wait for the big inning. “We need to pitch better and if we can do those things on a consistent basis, we’re going to be in good shape.”